Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice
At Parham Smith & Archenhold LLC, we are honored to advocate for South Carolinians who have been seriously harmed (or worse) by physician errors and medical negligence. If you believe you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, you may not know much about this area of law or how it applies to your case. Please read the questions and answers provided below, then feel free to contact us with your own questions. We would be happy to answer them for you.
What is medical malpractice? Is it the same as a bad outcome?
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just part of being human. But when those mistakes were caused by negligence and resulted in real harm to someone, the injured person deserves more than an apology. Medical malpractice has three elements that differentiate it from a normal accident. They include:
- The physician or medical professional negligently violated the standard of care owed to the patient.
- The violation of the standard of care caused an injury to the patient that would not have occurred otherwise.
- The patient suffered significant damages because of the injury (e.g., disability, lost wages, the need for major follow-up care, pain and suffering).
To be clear, a bad outcome alone is not medical malpractice. Even if the doctor does everything right, bad outcomes and even deaths are within the realm of possibility. All three elements listed above must be present for a case to be considered malpractice.
What does “standard of care” refer to in medical malpractice cases?
We visit doctors to treat our injuries and ailments because they are highly trained and experienced. We trust that when we go in for care, the doctor’s treatment decisions and the care they provide will be consistent with that of other medical providers treating similar patients under similar circumstances. This is the expected standard of care.
When litigating medical malpractice, attorneys will often interview other medical professionals or experts in the same field as the doctor who caused the harm. These witnesses will testify that the doctor violated the standard of care by failing to do something or by doing something that other reasonable doctors would not have done under similar circumstances.
What are some examples of medication errors?
Most of the time, medication errors are likely to occur in hospital settings because physicians and staff are both ordering and administering the drugs without much input from the patient. As we note on our medication errors page, these mistakes can include giving the wrong drug or the wrong dose, failing to give a patient a critical medication at the right time, or failing to notice and prevent a dangerous drug interaction.
Errors can also occur at the pharmacy, but even these can sometimes be traced back to the prescribing doctor.
Can any personal injury attorney take my medical malpractice case?
While medical malpractice falls under the broad category of personal injury, these cases are not appropriate for all injury attorneys. Litigating a medical malpractice case takes an enormous amount of time, resources, money and organization. It also requires an attorney to do intensive research into the field of medicine relevant to each case. Not all law firms want med mal cases, and some who do may lack the resources or skills needed to properly litigate them. Our firm has decades of experience fighting for injured patients in medical malpractice cases.